Saturday, April 11, 2009

Proving Theories

F. W. Westaway's book, "Science Teaching," is full of excellent advice for science teachers and is just a pertinent today as in 1929 when it was published. Here's a nice nugget from the footnotes.
We may perform an experiment to verify a law, or to confirm the possibility of the truth of some hypothesis. But if we could "prove" theory to be "true", the theory would become identical with objective reality and cease to be "theory" entirely.
This simple prose explains why we can only disprove hypotheses and never prove them. We only "confirm the possibility of truth."

In the Smart Science® system, we have the option for teachers of presenting pre-written hypotheses or predictions to students. The students collect data from the prerecorded real experiments and/or from their hands-on experimentation and use those data to eliminate or disprove individual hypotheses or predictions.

It's quite possible that more than one hypothesis remains. Depending on the list, all may be eliminated. In any event, students are expected to defend their choices when writing their lab reports.

© 2009 by Paracomp, Inc., U.S.A.
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